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July 2008—In this Issue:
View the entire issue as a full-color PDF via the link below:
July 2008 HeartBeat (PDF)
One of my favorite childhood games was called flying. We would hike up the mountain located near our Phoenix home early in the evening when the heat of the day had begun to dissipate. About two-thirds of the way up the mountain the terrain became quite steep and peppered with large rock out-croppings, and the cacti changed from multi-armed saguaros to prickly pear and jumping cactus. At some point, my friend Ian and I would count “One, two, three...go!” and begin running as fast as we could down the mountain. Gravity—being what it is—often took over as we sped headlong down the mountain. The game was easy: run as fast as you can and leap off the rocks. The combination of speed and the mountain grade resulted in “flights” of over twenty feet. The exhilaration of speed and flight was tempered only by the speed of the approaching ground. Each flight was followed by a controlled crash into the side of the mountain. Over time we learned that if you rolled on landing, you could come back up on your feet and lose very little speed as you ran to the next rock and leapt again. The game should have been called “falling,” but it was fun.
As I look back on those crazy childhood days, it is a wonder we lived through the game. At the bottom of the mountain we shook off dust, plucked out cactus spines, and dabbed the blood from various cuts and scrapes acquired on our downhill journey. And we laughed uncontrollably. Part of the joy was being out of control as we careened down the mountain. Once you started to run, it was almost impossible to stop—gravity was just too strong. As an adult, I can’t imagine having fun that way anymore. One leap off a rock would mean six months in intensive care! As an adult, I know better. I know my limits; I want to stay safe. I have lost that sense of immortality and invincibility that comes with the foolishness of youth, and I am more afraid of the approaching ground than I am excited about the joy of flight. Too bad.
When Jesus sent out his disciples, he reminded them that they would be like sheep among wolves. Their ministry involved risk. At times they were persecuted, imprisoned, even tortured. Still, our youthful church endured hardship and uncertainty because they believed Jesus’ promise that God’s kingdom was near. Leaps of faith brought Paul to countries far and wide as he shared the hope of the risen Christ. House churches gathered late into the night for fear of the authorities. Care for the poor and widowed became a hallmark of this new community of faith. Grace—being what it is—took over as God’s people sped headlong into the mission God had given them. Over time, they learned to shake dust from their feet when they were not received and to rejoice as the spirit took hold in unlikely places. They stumbled, they fell, they endured the barbs and taunts of friends and family, but they chose to fly.
Some folks say that the Lutheran church has become too aware of it’s own mortality. Every major debate is tempered by fear that this decision or that policy will spell the end of the church. How ironic that a community of faith whose central tenant is the promise of eternal life is so afraid of death! Our joints have grown stiff and our courage is ebbing while more youthful communities of faith draw our young people away from the deep experience of a graceful God to a pop theology which has neither grace nor a God distinctly identifiable from themselves. The very message of grace God has given us to share is going unheard by our children and grandchildren. We know our limits, and we want to stay safe. But in staying safe, the fire of faith dies a slow and certain death. Our church buildings stand strong, proud, and well manicured—but there is too much room in the pews.
As I reflect on my calling as a pastor, and my call as Pastor to Lutheran Church of Honolulu, I believe it is time to throw off self-preservation, climb back up the hill, and try a little flying. I know we have our limits, but wisdom leads me to believe that being safe is no longer a lofty goal of ministry. We may huff and puff a lot more as we climb, and some of us may ascend in wheel chairs and need a little help over the big rocks, but the joy of being seized by the gravity of God’s grace will make it all worth while. God has given us a gift of ministry and the message of grace that the world truly needs to experience in a time of war, economic uncertainty, and natural disasters. Unless we shake off our fears of failure, of injury, and even of death, our ministry is just a whisper among the shouts. It will take courageous leadership by our clergy—but especially by our lay leaders and folks in the pew—if we are once again to be a church where God’s mission is central to our lives. So, grab a canteen, put on some hiking shoes, and climb. One, two, three... go!
Pastor Jeff Lilley
It’s summer when many of us change our routines and give ourselves a bit of a break from the familiar patterns of work and school. One routine we hope you will not change this summer is that of giving. Whether you pledge financially, make in-kind donations, or give of your time or talents, please remember that LCH does not take time off during the summer. Just like your family budget, our expenses continue and may even increase. We still need volunteers on Sundays—and sometimes during the week—so that our worship services and outreach programs can function.
As we move deeper into summer, please check to see if your pledge is up to date. If you have not pledged, please consider it. You can pledge at any time of the year! And remember, if your financial circumstances change and you need to adjust your pledge, it’s easy to do. Just contact Financial Secretary Bill Potter with the change.
Here are some thoughts to reflect on as you prayerfully consider your personal offering to God and share your blessings at LCH.
“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”— Martin Luther (1483–1546), German reformer
“Money is a great treasure that only increases as you give it away.”— Lord Francis Bacon (1561–1626), English philosopher and scientist
“Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.”— Billy Graham (1918– ), American evangelist
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”— Anne Frank (1929–45), Jewish Dutch diarist during Nazi occupation
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”— Jesus, in Acts 20:35
Have a great summer!
Camp Erdman on the North Shore
June 29–July 4 (Sunday thru Friday)
Our junior high and senior high youth (7th–12th graders) are at Summer Bible Camp at Camp Erdman on the North Shore. OYEA brought over professional counselors from Camp WAPO in Wisconsin to lead a week of fun, fellowship, and great opportunities for our youth to learn about God’s Word; the theme is “Blessings from God.” There is a “family day” activity scheduled for the whole family on Friday, July 4.
LCHers are generous! The June ingathering for Angel Network was wonderful. A shopping cart full of canned tuna, spam, pasta, canned fruit, and personal care items was collected for Angel Network located at Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church. ANC sends their mahalo to the LCH community for all the support. Our ingathering is scheduled for the first Sunday of every month, so the next opportunity is Sunday, July 6.
On Sunday, July 6, at 10:30 am (and continuing the first Sunday of every month), the chairperson or another representative of each committee will meet in the Boardroom with Pastor Jeff Lilley and Council President Brian Weis. This is to enhance communications between all committees. See you all there!
St. Louis School, Mamiya Theatre
Sunday, July 6, 2:00 pm
Our own Seth L. is playing “Mark,” the lead role in the play, Rent. Please join the LCH ‘ohana on July 6 as we attend the Sunday matinee.
See Peggy Anderson or contact her through the Church Office (941-2566) for tickets (15 are available).
Members and friends of Lutheran Church of Honolulu have joined thousands of Lutherans across our nation in study of the ELCA Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality. The Draft Social Statement, in development for several years, is an attempt by our national church body to draw attention to theological, social, and ethical issues surrounding human sexuality. After receiving feedback from study groups in congregations, conferences, and synods, the task force will write a final draft to be presented to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009.
There are three opportunities for you to learn more about the draft study:
Copies of the draft study are available on the ELCA website at <www.elca.org> or in the LCH Church Office.
In Stitches, the LCH craft group, will meet through the summer on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from 9:00 to 11:00 am in the Boardroom. We work on our own projects or on items for the church. The next few meeting dates are July 12 and 26 and August 9 and 23. Come join us for fellowship and fun.
For more information, please contact Linda Miller through the Church Office (941-2566).
LCH organist, Katherine Crosier, and her student, Jordan M., are two of seven performers slated for the annual Midsummer Night’s Organ Concert, to be held on Sunday, July 20th, at 7:00 pm at Central Union Church. Donations will be received for the Donald L. Conover Scholarship Fund of the American Guild of Organists and proceeds go directly to training new organists in Hawaii. Our own Nathalie J. and Jordan M. are currently recipients of the program. All are welcome.
Game Night is this Saturday, July 26, at 6:30 pm at Stephanie Miller’s home in Kaimuki. Bring a game and a potluck dish to share.
If you have any questions, or need directions, please contact Steff through the Church Office (941-2566).
Dear People of LCH–
Mahalo for all that you have done and all that you have been for me over the past few years.
Thank you also, for the prayers, for the gifts, and for the love you sent with the Lilley’s to my graduation.
You all remain in my heart and in my prayers–
Bill Potter, Webmaster
Our LCH website reached a milestone on June 2. The sitemap on our site is generated automatically in the wee hours of every Monday morning, and on June 2, the count was 500 pages! I first wrote about our sitemap in the July 2007 HeartBeat, and then there were only 370 pages indexed, so you can see we have grown. In fact, certain pages are excluded from the sitemap for a variety of reasons, so that there are more than 500 pages on the site. But any way you look at it, it’s a pretty big website.
Last month, I wrote about an ongoing project to add definitions and explanations of “churchy” language to some of the main pages on our website so that non-Christians and those not familiar with the language we use will feel more welcome. The revised Visitor Information page is up and running, and I am working on other pages. However, as I was revising those pages, I began to question whether there was so much jargon that the pages should be rewritten. I am currently consulting with several people about this, but you can expect progress soon.
While working to make sure our language is not a barrier to visitors, my research took me to a number of sites related to accessibility. Even though we don’t usually talk this way at LCH, I have to think it was the Holy Spirit leading me to see more ways that we can be more welcoming.
Accessibility for websites encompasses a wide range of techniques to ensure that information is available to everyone. Who are these people? Imagine a blind person who has web pages read by a screen reader and cannot see images. Or how about a person with limited mobility who cannot use a mouse? Then there is a person with a slow connection who has images turned off or someone who is security conscious and has Java disabled. And, of course, there are people who are colorblind. Any of these people could be looking for the Good News, so our website should welcome them all.
Fortunately, lots of folks have been thinking about accessibility, and good guidance is available. In addition, many strategies can be thought of as consistent application of “best practices” in web design. Still, there are some real hurdles to full compliance. For example, the first item on Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 says “Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element.... [including] stand-alone audio files” This means that to be completely accessible, we should have a full transcript for every sermon. Unless one of you would like to transcribe each sermon and children’s conversation, that’s not going to happen, but we can meet most of the other criteria with some consistent effort.
One big key is separating the content of each web page from the formatting. This is done by taking the commands that create the visual layout out of the web pages themselves and putting them into what are called stylesheets. Then the “markup” in the web page can be used to convey meaning. In the past, web designers have often used the markup commands for visual formatting, but recent attention to accessibility is returning to the original intent of the World Wide Web to convey meaning without regard to formatting.
For this reason, the first step in making our website more accessible is a thorough going separation of content and visual layout. Since this will require a review of most of the key pages on the website, it seems like an opportune time to polish up the visual layout a bit with a new stylesheet. After some consultation, the new stylesheet was uploaded on June 21. You can expect to see some differences in the fonts used on the website and more consistent use of headings.
Echoing the end of last month’s column, I hope that these changes will make the LCH website closer to our goal of being “welcoming to all.”
LCH youth—in cooperation with other Hukilau youth—put on their second big car wash at Christ Lutheran, Mililani on May 26. They raised $565 for youth attending Camp Erdman, and Thrivent provided $187 in matching funds, for a total of $752. WOW!!!
At right, Pastor Jeff is hard at work spraying down a car.
Talents of LCHers were on display in this year’s Faith & Arts Sunday. Below are a few examples. Additional pictures are available on the LCH Website.
A yarn lei by Peggy Anderson and examples form the “Pi” series by Biz Person
Scarlett by Kelly Sueda
Stained glass by Randy Castello
Next Heart Beat Deadline is Tuesday, July 22!
“People asked me when I ran for office in Arkansas if all the Baptists were active in my campaign. I said, 'Everyone of them was active. Half for me and half against me.’”
—Mike Huckabee, Presidential candidate and Baptist minister, via Rev. Dale Schoening
A U.S. Congressman died and went to heaven. “Welcome,” said St. Peter. “We seldom see Congressmen.”
St. Peter explained, “Here’s how it works. You’ll spend one day in hell and one day in heaven, then choose where you want to spend eternity.”
When the Congressman went to hell, he saw a golf course, a clubhouse, and politician friends. They dined and reminisced. Their host, the devil, seemed very pleasant.
The next day the Congressman returned to heaven, where he saw many contented souls playing musical instruments and singing.
“Time to choose eternity,” St. Peter said. The Congressman reflected and chose hell.
Back in hell, the Congressman saw a barren land full of garbage, fire and smoke, and his friends in rags. A smiling devil greeted him.
“But,” the Congressman protested, “yesterday there was golf, lobster, champagne, and great times.”
The devil replied, “Yesterday we were campaigning...today you voted.”
—via George Goldtrap, Ormond-by-the-Sea, FL
You know you may be Lutheran if...
“When Rev. Dr. Edward E. Busch began an interim ministry at the Lutheran Church of Hope in Canyon Country, CA, the congregation welcomed him with a potluck dinner.
“Dr. Busch remarked that he wondered if the Church of Hope was really a Lutheran congregation” because “I don’t see any Jello dishes on the tables.”
“Three years later, when the congregation secured a regularly called pastor, the congregation again celebrated Dr. Busch with a farewell potluck dinner. Tears of laughter ran down all faces when it was observed that every last dish on the table was Jello—of every imaginable color, shape, and flavor!”
—via Rev. Gene E. Merrell, Columbia, PA
Copyright © 2008 Lutheran Church of Honolulu
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